Coronavirus as strategic distraction: Analyst details CCP’s Taiwan preparations

FPI / May 6, 2020

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using the Wuhan coronavirus to advance its geostrategic position, an analyst said.

Chinese PLA Navy soldiers on a PLA vessel in the South China Sea. / Twitter

While other nations are distracted in coping with the virus, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has stepped up activities in the First Island Chain, which extends from Japan through the Ryukyus, Taiwan and the Philippines, and in the more distant Second Island Chain that extends from Japan down through Guam, Richard Fisher wrote for the Taipei Times on May 4.

“The CCP dictatorship is callously exploiting the China Virus as a weapon to extend its military control from the First Island Chain to the Second Island Chain,” Fisher, a contributing editor, wrote.

“The CCP’s goal is to impose PLA control over both island chains and over the northern half of the South China Sea,” Fisher noted. “This will not only isolate Taiwan, advancing conditions to promote its surrender or invasion, but it will force Japan and South Korea to reconsider their American military alliances. It will also open PLA power projection routes to the South Pacific, then Latin America, and to the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, and Africa, reinforcing political-economic power building networks like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).”

On April 10, Chinese propaganda outlet the Global Times stated: “The drills were a part of preparations for the potential military struggle against the island of Taiwan, and such drills have become regular and routine.”

But they are not “routine,” Fisher asserted, adding, “they are active military preparations for the blockade and invasion of Taiwan and they will intensify.”

The PLA’s joint force exercises around Taiwan can be expected to “soon feature regular demonstrations of ASBM strikes, coordinated with PLAAF integrated H-6 bomber strike groups and PLA Navy aircraft carrier battle groups,” Fisher wrote. “These joint force exercises will stress operations that threaten Taiwan from the East, to force a dispersal of Taiwan’s defensive forces, weakening anti-invasion capabilities in the West, and to create battle lines to deter the United States from coming to Taiwan’s assistance.”

A recent escalation in PLA coercive military activities in the South China Sea and near Taiwan has been the beginning of “Joint Force” operations, a high-priority goal for this most recent phase of PLA modernization.

In February 2019, the South China Morning Post reported on PLA joint-force exercises in the South China Sea that may have simulated coordination between the PLA Navy, PLA Air Force, and the anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) of the PLA Rocket Force.

In early July 2019, multiple U.S. media outlets reported that the PLA Rocket Force fired multiple ASBMs, most likely DF-21D missiles, into the South China Sea.

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